Monday, February 24, 2014

For My Dad Who Loves the Wild One

If you've ever had a weekend that was the perfect blend of in and out, away and tucked in, important talks around take-and-bake pizza and overpriced but delicious fish tacos, then you understand how I felt right around 8 a.m. Sunday.

We spent 2 days in Indy with some family and it was just the thing we needed, the best kind of breather, with 50-degree temps to boot.

We woke up before we were ready on Sunday morning, after a night of too many House of Cards episodes and not nearly enough answers. Cory's big-shot smart phone buzzed - my "assistants" at Yahoo mail had sent out a mass email on my behalf, with questionable links and all the usual crud. This, after it made me change my password just a few weeks ago, to my great consternation because I'm just not a password-changing kind of girl, and go ahead and tell me I should be, but I'll let my recent post-change spamming speak for itself.

So, the whole way to church, my phone buzzed with friendly reminders from people I love. No one likes Sunday spam.

When my parent's number popped up, just as we were parallel parking, I laughed to myself. My dad, the one who swore he would never get the internet, has had it for a while now. He must have gotten my spam and I knew he'd be more alarmed than anyone.

I sat in church with Calvin leaned up against me, listening hard for an answer I needed, thankful for people who love me and keep me near to them, people who alert me when I'm buggering up their inbox, people who sit long with me around the kitchen table while I unburden my soul and snatch cobwebs from the back corners.

As it turns out, my dad didn't know about the spam.
As it turns out, he was headed into the ER for presumed appendicitis.
As it turns out, his appendix was fine, but not his colon, and he went into emergency surgery and came out with a wound they can't close for a week and a brand new set of complications.

He is fine. He will keep being fine.
He knows enough to keep relenting to the will of God, even across a stretch of months where things stop making sense.

They've had a rough season, but God never stops being good. Not ever.

So, this is another reason I blog.
Because though I'm 4 hours away and I can't be there quite yet, I can load up some pictures of his silliest grandson. Keisha can hold the Kindle up to his face and I'm sure he'll smile and he might even laugh, but I hope not, on account of the open wound.

What follows is the truest glimpse of my youngest child.

This is how he "plays".
It usually involves rogue rolls of tape or hand-knotted rat's nests of yarn.
Sometimes there is hardware or other contraband, such as markers.

I let him do this, because 1) it kept him busy for nearly an hour, right in my line of vision. And 2) it was harmless, so why not? (I'm trying to really pick my battles with this one.)

To my knowledge, he has never in his life played with the legos, blocks, cars, trains, puzzles, or other normal toys that fill our toy room.

He specializes in off-the-grid.

This appears to have been his life's work. His finest achievement to date.
"I like to decorate! Just like you!"

Every pen. Every pencil.
Hand-written "fancy letters" representing everyone in the family.

It just sort of worked, am I right?

Late Olympic inspiration hit, and he threw in a few gold medals.

The Artist!
(said in my best French accent)

This is just what we do.
Every day.

Every single day, he asks to paint.
Or he goes through half a bottle of glue.
Or he rubs colored glue sticks over the seats of all my kitchen chairs.
Or he tapes bubble wrap "curtains" to the windows.

I think he should totally be Meg's next craft helper. He'd be infinitely more entertaining than I was.

Oh, remember the pins?
We have a new method.
He starts with 5 pins each morning. He loses one for each serious infraction.
If he still has even one pin at the end of the day?
A sticker for his chart!

It is exhausting and I'm no good with complicated routines. I always forget. I'm scattered.

This was the result of his first full chart.
His first official play-date!
(His little friend kept telling him he was so funny.)

I'll be honest, I can only keep up with pins and charts and rewards and punishments so long. It's been nearly 4 years of this. It never ends. I'm not that on the ball.

When things are relatively peaceable, I just chuck it and enjoy a break.
It's probably not advisable.
You know, consistency and all that jazz.

All I know is, sometimes sanity trumps consistency.

Also, he has started making his own sticker charts, racing to the fridge and awarding himself stickers throughout the day. :)

Most good days also include some water.
Either a bath in the middle of the day, with a bunch of his beloved containers, or washing dishes.

Listen, he really likes to don hair pretties from time to time.
I usually fend him off, but on this day, I said yes and he was in Heaven.

(He's not supposed to use the sprayer! shhhh!)

This kid. He makes life so hard and so good.
He has changed the fabric of Shannan Martin in good ways and bad. I struggle most days to live my life happily, despite what he's throwing at me. It's a fight, but I'm gaining ground.

He has control issues. Anger issues.
He's a lasher-outer and it hurts my feelings, but I'm doing okay. I'm doing better than ever, I think.

It's hard to realize that success can mean detaching enough not to break down when a 5-year old hurls his best verbal ammo.

But this is life. This is the life I was given.

And in between all those rough places is this sweet little boy with a hard past, the one whose eyes melt me, the one who gives the best cuddles and can turn, just as quickly, into a dream boat of a guy, promising to love me forever and that he'll never move away, rewarding me with nightlights and stickers and stray pieces of tape, because I'm "the best" or "so good" or "such a love".

 Last week, he asked me to help him cut a heart.
Then he worked furiously for a while, and brought me this.

In that moment, I felt so safe and so loved.

One night later, he left me this love note.
I wasn't feeling quite as safe or quite as loved....  :)

I found it well after dark, after he was tucked in and sound asleep, which was probably to his advantage.

And the day had been bright enough that I unscrewed the lampshade and carried it down to Cory, where all we could do was shake our heads in stunned disbelief mixed with complete "of course he did".

Silas knows my name. He knows how to spell it and I have to believe that when he does spell it, it's almost always done in love.

Except for two nights ago when a simple "no" enraged him enough to grab his spiral notebook and jot down a hurried and angry correspondence to his foster mommy, letting her know what a mean mommy he has.

But that's really a whole 'nother story. And so our world turns.


Love you, Dad! We're praying for you and can't wait to see you soon.


  1. Difficult seasons have plagued myself and my family for a while now (but seem to be subsiding a bit), and it wrenches my heart to see other people battling (or barely hanging on) through them. Praying for your sweetie Dad, and for all of you!

  2. All I can think is Andy Stanley's quote, "The days are long but the years are short." You're doing an amazing job. Really. I love how boys love their mamas. Even if they show it on a lampshade.

    And the fact that you watch House of Cards further exemplifies your awesomeness.:) my husband is obsessed...and he's only on season 1.

    Blessings and prayers for your dad on this Monday!

  3. Praying for your dad....and your whole family!

    LOVE the lampshade, though I confess that when my kidds were that age I would not have loved it as much. Being an "almost grandmother" is changing my perspective!

    House of Cards? It's next on our list. We have to finish Blue Bloods first!

    1. I'm a little "eh" about the 2nd season... just offering full disclosure. :)

    2. Shannon-Is Season Two as raunchy as Season One? We watched season one with the shades pulled and liked the storyline, but goodness! Not judging, just wondering if it is safe for my eyeballs!

  4. As I am in 'second' season of treatments. New schedule gives way to a New way of life and I am NOT fully complying. Dragging my feet and whining and crying the whole way. Not the mature way BUT the way to get me through and help me endure the pain. Prayers for your dad. May he go through this season quickly and with healing.

  5. We're just going to start right off the bat and say this is the best post ever.


    Hi Shannan's Dad! I'm Joy, the one who HATES the snakes. (I just cringed). I am so sorry about your health issue and I am praying over you and Mrs. G. too. Hang in there! Rest!


    This happened this weekend:

    Williemether: I'm the boss.

    Me: (blank stare)

    Williemether: Well, I'm just pretending to be the boss, because we all know you're the real boss. I'm just so much better at it than you.

    Me: (blank stare)

    I learned all this boss business from you, Shannaloo. You must be so proud of yourself.

    Again, best post ever.


  6. Holy Moly ......... woo hee.............. had to take a deep breath after reading this. Thank you for some perspective and insight.

  7. I don't personally know you, Shannan, and what I do know is only through what I read here in this space. But I do know this: You are the best "mom" for this little guy. God hand-picked him and hand-picked you and HE adds HIS all sufficient grace and love to the mix to make the most powerful of combinations. I know the days must feel long some weeks, but I promise you the years will seem short . . . one day. You are a most beautiful soul that he will one day realize he is blessed to call "Mom" : )

  8. Shannon I will pray for your father. I DO understand about Silas. My adopted son was a lot like this. All across the board. I am trying to remember what toys he played with.....nothing stands out other than his teddy bear. He used to make traps with string all over the house. His mood would go from great to unreal. We should probably talk. It is exhausting. So interesting what he does with all the ribbon and things. He does love you don't doubt that. HE's just too sure about his own self. ((((HUGS))))

  9. Praying for your dad and Silas. Well, and you too!! ;)

  10. confession: I cannot make myself like House of Cards. I just need someone to love, and there are no characters who fit the bill.

    Also, I love you and this and am praying for your dad and mom and everything. And my heart was feeling a little "dark" today, so thanks for making me feel 1-not alone and 2-brighter :-)

    1. I know. I wasn't super into season 1, but we pressed on and it got a little more interesting.
      Season 2 is killing me. Just kinda boring. And true, no one likeable!
      I mostly spend my time coveting Claire's hair and wishing she'd wear something other than gray.

  11. It is really interesting about how his brain works...something is up in there...I wonder if he is going to be a really incredible multi-media see those "installations" in museums that get so much attention and might involve bubble wrap and electricity, maybe water, too...LOL..I can't wait to see what unfolds for Silas! He knows what he likes and isn't afraid to go for it.

    1. Totally!! His pre-school teachers have already asked me to find them once he's grown. They're dying to see what he ends up doing/being. He takes the WEIRDEST stuff to show-and-tell!

  12. Oh how that lampshade makes me smile. :)

  13. Oh my gosh...I just figured it out HE'S BANKSY, ISN'T HE?!

  14. This motherhood ride is so fraught. I had to come here and ask for help, because I know you get it. And that there are no answers. But sometimes you really need there to be.

    I'm sitting outside my little person's room, knowing that he's grieving something tonight that before this moment he hadn't even grasped or considered.

    My babe is also a beautiful Korean adoptee, and tonight, as we went through his "coming home" books, he noticed the wretched grief on his foster mommy's face (and mine on her behalf) as she handed him to me.

    I watched his poor little face as he tried to take it all in and understand it. He was so brave and so mature. So beyond his just 4 years. But it was his aching, his red-rimmed and tear-filled eyes, his struggling composure, that has now undone me.

    It's so hard to want to make this all okay for him, but to know that I can't actually make it not hurt. I know that all I can do is talk and talk and talk. And that love is everything, but still not exactly enough somehow.

    But right now, I just needed to come here, with all of you really nice people, and have a bit of a cry.

    Thanks for creating this place.

  15. lol. but he is so gorgeous and all.

  16. Hope your Dad is feeling better. My Dad loved my wild one too, and I mean he was wild!

  17. Speedy recovery wishes for your dad. My daughter actually had her appendix removed last night. And, the same daughter wrote my name across the front of our house with chalk, once. Oh, there were other places as well, but this was the biggest. I, too, would love to know what Silas becomes when he grows up. My daughter? She is about to be hired as an air traffic controller. Never give up're a great mom.

  18. I've been reading your blog for a while now and I love it- and you. Is that weird since I'm a stranger and all? Either way... I just wanted to thank you for the honesty and the transparency of this post. We adopted 2 kids who we started out fostering from infancy. There are still deep rooted trauma and pain that make the day-to-day tough. One of our precious little ones has RAD. I sincerely appreciate the acknowledgment that every kid has a beautiful unique, side and a struggling, sinful side. Sometimes it's just more extreme than others. There's something about hearing another parent say it that makes me feel like part of a community and gives an extra dose of strength to go at it again.
    I'll pray for you and this special little guy today. Pray that God would give you strength and creativity, that your son would see Him in you and that He would give you a new glimpse into how He is working.
    Thanks again for the encouragement.

  19. I'm an adoptive mom and I have a large group of friends who adopted from Ethiopia. They are all about your youngest age and everyone of them was saying that their child does not play with toys, ever! They labeled it orphanage toy shortage disorder. They're all happy kids, but zero interest in toys.

  20. Prayers are with you all. I am sure your Dad smiled when he saw the pics.

  21. Best wishes for your Dad's recovery!! I laughed at your little guys creation!!! We have a 7 yr old girl adopted at age 5 from China. She is completely deaf. She plays the same way as your boy! A roll of tape, and countless shoe strings knotted together......tied to a door knob, then to a toy box, ending with a purse on the end.........all strung zig zagged across the room like a laser maze. Or all her toys gathered randomly and loaded into a back pack so stuffed she can hardly carry it, or stacked to the point of almost toppling off of the baby baby in sight. She rarely plays with a toy like it is intended. This morning she was down on her knees watching how the dishwasher tray rollers worked..........It will be interesting to see what they do as adults!..........IF I survive to see it!

  22. i swear- you always make me laugh.
    and most days you make me cry.
    today was a both/and sort of day.

  23. May the Lord flood your Papa with His healing presence. Also, the artwork Silas created on the window looks like a cross to me. Amen. I see crosses all the time, thank you Lord. May God bless you and your family.

  24. You're my favorite. Randomly, this was encouraging to me.

  25. Silas sounds so much like my friend's son. At 25 he isn't an artist but you should see what he does to his parents' house at Christmas! It's the one you drive around the block to see again.

  26. Oh my gosh. I am praying for your dad. I just marched over to the couch and had kaish kneel and pray with me. May God bless him.

  27. Thank you for sharing so honestly. Your little guy reminds me so much of my youngest! It's comforting to hear similar stories coming from someone else's home!

  28. If your dad was trying not to laugh he may have been okay until he got to the lampshade pic and your commentary. You always make me crack up. Praying for your dad with you!

  29. I know I say it every. Sing. Time. But Silas Martin and Miles Greer are brothers from afar. This is exactly the sort of thing Miles is still doing at 9-almost-10. They have a hunger to create that is beyond their years. Toys? Schmoys!